CNN is reporting that former Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter is gravely ill and suffering from a "serious" form of cancer that "flared up" on Monday night. The news comes from unnamed sources and doesn't include much detail, but The Philadelphia Inquirer confirms that he is in the hospital and the tone of the reports — CNN says he is "battling for his life" — seem to indicate that his condition is quite serious. The 82-year-old Specter has been treated for Hodgkin's disease twice in the last seven years, but it's not clear if this is a recurrence of that illness or a new form of cancer.
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Specter, who served as a Republican in the Senate for 30 years, famously switched parties shortly after President Obama took office in 2009. He ran as a Democrat in his final re-election bid in 2010, which ended when he lost the Democratic primary and has since retired. According to the Inquirer, Specter's office canceled a long-planned public appearance last week, citing personal issues.